What we’ve done these past couple of weeks

By Sacha

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During the past few weeks, we’ve been to the Amazon, Otavalo, Cuenca, and now Baños. The Amazon was definitely a highlight in our trip so far, especially since we had Aunt Laurel during that time, as well as in The Market Town, Otavalo!

In the Amazon, we had two excursions per day, one at 7.00 A.M and the other at 4.30 P.M. During the first day, we went to La Selva lodge on a boat trip that took 3 hours, 180 minutes, or 10,800 seconds. Am I doing these complicated sums in my head just to impress you? Yes. Yes I am.

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Anyway, after arriving at the lodge, (during the trip it rained the whole time but was enjoyable except that exceedingly annoying fact) we got hot chocolate (another enjoyable factor of the Amazon) and a briefing of what we would doing. Following this, we went to our cabins to unpack, then voyaged out on our 4:30 activity, which was a boat trip. Our guides for our trip would be Paul (someone who knows everything there is to know about Amazonia) and Sixto (a native guide who can do amazing things like weaving headbands, cicadas, and brain puzzles out of leaves.) During the boat trip we saw squirrel monkeys and capuchin monkeys, two of the seven monkey species that live in the Ecuadorian part of the Amazon (there are millions of monkey species in the whole Amazon basin.) We also saw a big species of Amazonian bird called the quoitzun.

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Swimming with piranhas
Next day we woke up, ate breakfast, blah blah blah, then yes! We went on our 7:00 A.M activity, going up the Observation Tower. Sixto showed us some Black-Mantled Tamarins, third of the seven monkey species. One of the most enjoyable times of the past two weeks was looking through the telescope and seeing several new bird species. We went on a swing made of a root. You know, those things that hang down from trees ARE NOT VINES. They are aerial roots, and that’s what the swing was made of.

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I enjoyed a lot about the Amazon trip, like swimming in the great brown river, Aunt Laurel catching a piranha while fishing, and seeing all seven of the monkey species, something pretty much unheard of. I learned many things from Paul and Sixto, and saw wild parakeets, much different from the ones we keep as pets in our houses. They are a bright emerald green, with beautiful true blue on the underside of their wings, just peeking out at the Amazon sunshine from under the green feathers above them. They are much bigger, with large beaks to crack open the nuts that nourish them. It was a sad time when we said goodbye to Paul and adiós to Sixto, but nothing can last forever.

Something that really stood out in Otavalo was the market. It isn’t nicknamed after that for nothing! There were scarves and ponchos and blankets and bags and hats and rings and trinkets made from wood and glass and metal and ceramic, and everything else you can imagine! Then there was the food market, with beans and nuts and fruits and vegetables and plucked chickens and whole roast hogs with apples in their mouths! And I thought those only existed in cartoons! My mom and Aunt Laurel went crazy on the blankets and ponchos, all the while saying: “Of course, they’re Christmas presents! We’re not going to keep them all!” Yeah, right!

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Sacha chocolate!

We would go to the market every morning and then in the afternoon got lunch and did work. What, you thought I was free? Nope! After, we went to the market again. My favorite day was Saturday, because on Saturday the market goes CRAZY! Even in low season, which is when we went! We also went to the leather market, which is where everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, is made of leather! There were saddles and bags, and saddlebags, and wallets, and jackets, and loads of other stuff! We also got to visit this nice man’s house who showed us the process of making Ponchos, Blankets, and Other Woolen Items (see my other post for more) and went to a bird sanctuary. We saw two bald eagles, and we kept singing the National Anthem in front of them, and one kept chirping along to the song! (My theory is that he was trained to do that in the show,) but unfortunately the show was canceled because it rained, so I’m not sure.

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My Spanish teacher

In Cuenca we went to Símon Bolivar Spanish School, which was actually fun, because I had an awesome teacher, Joey! She’s a lawyer, and has four dogs and eight cats, and lets me draw and paint while she’s teaching me another language! I LOVE her!
The lady whose house we were staying in was called Elena, and she was really nice! She made hot chocolate and cold chocolate (which is even better than hot chocolate, by the way,) and made really good breakfast and even gave us candy for the six hour bus ride to Baños!

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We’ve only stayed in Baños for a day, so I can’t say much about it, but there is one thing! Thalie, Momma, and I went rappelling down waterfalls, but Luke chickened out. The two rappelling ones were really scary (I mean, it’s a freaking waterfall, and it is literally vertical, and you’re the only thing keeping you from falling!) You hold a rope, and walk backwards down the waterfall, while the water is roaring around you! Thalie and I went with guides, but my guide was super CRAZY, like PYSCHO, and he kept sliding down like ten feet at a time, so it pretty much went like this. Stand, Drop, Scream, Jerk, and start over. He also didn’t know the difference between hands and feet, so he kept going “Move hand! Move hand!” Then when I tried to move my hand, he would get frustrated and jerk my feet into position so I almost fell to my death. Only the rappelling ones were scary, though. There was a zip line one that was fun, and then two more that you SLID down the waterfall, which was SUPER FUN.

I’ll report more later!
-Sacha

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